Book Review: Opposite of Always by Justin A Reynolds

‘Opposite of Always’ was Justin A Reynolds’ 2019 debut novel. It follows the story of Jack King, a high school senior, who falls in love with a first year college student called Kate when they meet at a party during his college campus tour. But when Kate dies due to complications with her sickle cell anemia, a condition Jack didn’t know she even had, he finds himself trapped in a time loop, reliving the past four months in a bid to keep her from meeting the same fate. Again and again and again.


I loved this book, I was captivated by Jack’s narration, and subsequent devotion to Kate upon meeting and falling in love with her was so compelling. Each time his feelings grow and the deja vu aspect of their relationship is amazing. I loved seeing them act as teenagers do, be forgetful, make mistakes, face unprecedented consequences and learn how to understand each other on a deeper level each time.

Not only does Reynolds provide a platform for increasing understanding of sickle cell anaemia, a condition that significantly impairs the lives of sufferers, but also offers an authentic, horrifying insight to the fears that teenagers in America experience, from the fear of incarceration thanks to racial profiling to the debilitating debts that come from hospital stays. He also acknowledges the normalisation and accessibility of recreational drugs, alcohol, and firearms for young people. But, regardless of the gloom that overshadows the story, Jack tells a story of love and hope, and how he would risk everything, time and time again, for the girl he loves.

Reynolds tells an exciting, high-stakes story about mortality and the mistakes we all make as we’re navigating the minefield that is growing up.

I loved how the story ended and although I grew somewhat exasperated by the repetitive nature of the book, going through those same four months again and again, I felt that the repetition made us resonate with Jack’s plight and how he cannot escape this loop until he has changed the future so he can let go of his past, and make better choices. The concept of time loops is something I adore seeing in the media and was elated to have an opportunity to read one that was done as well as this.

I would recommend ‘Opposite of Always’ in a heartbeat!

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